Concerned over the country’s vulnerability to increased cyber attacks, security agencies have reiterated the need for mandatory testing of all imported telecom equipment, fearing it could be embedded with malware and spyware.
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) and the department of telecommunications (DoT) would be discussing the matter at the highest level sometime soon as DoT had earlier decided in favour of mandatory testing of all imported telecom equipment in locally-accredited test labs or test beds from July 1 last year.
However, the internal DoT note last year said that the date of security certification from a lab located in India may be extended by nine to 12 months.
Top industry sources said Chinese and Western telecom equipment manufacturers have been resisting mandatory testing of their equipment in India. In April 2014, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), a leading US trade body, said India must not embrace telecom policies that rely on protectionism.
The TIA had also warned that India risked supply chain disruptions and increased costs for telecom companies and their vendors as it currently lacked the requisite lab-testing capacity. The European Union (EU) too had questioned India’s plans to locally screen network gear from July 1 last year. Both TIA and EU have said the local testing deadline should be deferred, failing which potential supply chain disruptions could hit consumer pricing and also increase the cost of telecom services, hurting consumers.
However, an MHA official explained that they would move ahead to make it mandatory for testing of telecom equipment in India. The MHA has recently given clearance to Huawei to set up a manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu, which will help the company to meet the new guidelines for manufacturing, which gives edge to Indian manufacturers.